Fashion designer, stylist, and illustrator Langston Bell is making a name for himself in the local Indianapolis fashion scene. Recently featured on WISH TV, the 22 year old is showing some of his pieces at the “Meet the Artists” Gala this Saturday, February 11th at the Indianapolis Public Library.
Maggie Voss: Tell me about yourself.
Langston Bell: I was born in Cincinnati and moved to Indianapolis when I was three. I’ve been living here ever since. I attend the Art Institute of Indianapolis. I’m taking a break right now to get some real life experience in the industry and making sure my foundation is set for when I do graduate.
I focus on some streetwear and also design evening wear. I want to get more into menswear. That’s actually going to make an appearance this fall for my next collection. The theme is A Midsummer’s Night Dream. I’m going to play with a lot of different fabrics. It’s going to be awesome!
MV: Where did you get inspiration for your new collection?
LB: I’ve always been a Shakespeare-head. I love Othello and Romeo and Juliet. But, my favorite has always been A Midsummer’s Night Dream because of the overall fantasy and color. I tend to favor neutral colors, so I’m trying to branch out more — do a lot more color and create more statement pieces.
MV: Who do you draw your inspiration from?
LB: My top three inspirations are Zac Posen, Dior and my mom. Posen because of his overall architecture and structure of his gowns. Dior, because I see a lot of my aesthetic in that brand. I like timeless things that are traditional looking. I want to instill that timelessness into my menswear to make it more clean cut and tailored but also modern. My mom has always been into fashion and knows how to dress herself well and I thank her for instilling that in me at a young age.
MV: Is your family supportive of your work?
LB: My family is very supportive. My mom and dad have always pushed me to work for what I want. They tell me to do what makes me happy. I try to present myself in a way that will make them proud. I have seven sisters and each of us have our own creative thing going on.
MV: Are your designs couture or ready-to-wear?
LB: I’m switching more into ready-to-wear, but I do love couture because it’s all about one-of-a-kind pieces. It’s hands-on, and I get a chance to be more creative and make the garment my own. I see myself doing couture in the long run, but I will definitely play with ready-to-wear for a bit.
MV: The fashion industry, and especially during Fashion Week, is not known for its diversity. What are your thoughts that?
LB: As a black, male designer, it is important to me to make a statement about diversity and to support black models. My first collection I used all black models with various skin tones. That ties into my friend Ashley Chew’s movement Black Models Matter. I told her that when I become a well-known designer, I want people to know me as the designer who uses women of color.
MV: How do you make yourself known within the Indianapolis fashion community?
LB: I make sure to talk to people. At first, I wasn’t an outspoken person socially. Working in retail has helped me to open up and be more approachable. In the fashion world you have to know and talk to people and you have to break through that wall of shyness.
MV: How has your creative process evolved over time?
LB: I’m better at structure now. When I first started, I was more into draping and letting things flow. With the pieces I’m showing at the Meet the Artists Gala, you’ll see more structure.
I like the creativity of it and being able to tell a story. It’s being able to imagine something and then manifesting it. To think, ‘wow, I just did that.’
MV: How do you think the Art Institute of Indianapolis has prepared you for your future endeavors?
LB: School helped me with time management. I started using an agenda to keep track of everything. I’ve also developed a different outlook on the fashion scene and my own style. The program’s goal is to ensure students find their own style and niche that people will be able to recognize.
MV: What is your proudest moment as a designer?
LB: I’d say the WISH TV interview I just did. Seeing the model, hair and makeup done, wearing a dress I created in front of the camera was surreal. I was like ‘how the fuck did I do this?!’ Right now my head is spinning.
Then having people message me afterwards and marveling over my dress… I’ve definitely started to understand that this is bigger than me. Now, I have people watching.
MV: Who would be your ultimate designer collaborator?
LB: Naomi Campbell or Balmain. Naomi would be the signature model at the end of the show who walks out in a giant ballgown. That would be amazing.
MV: Other than designing clothing, what other talents do you have?
LB: I can cook. I like to cook steak and potatoes and can make a good party fajita dish. It’s a hidden talent. I like cooking because it’s relaxing. I can listen to music and not have to worry about anything.
MV: What’s advice you would give to student fashion designers?
LB: Do you homework so you know what you’re getting yourself into. It’s not like the ‘Devil Wear’s Prada’. Be prepared to work really hard. Practice your art.
MV: What is your personal and professional goal for 2017?
I see myself becoming more hands-on and more focused on the business side of things. I want to do runway shows and take my brand to Chicago and New York. That’s the plan for now.